Tyler Morris – Living in the Shadows | Album Review

Tyler Morris – Living in the Shadows

VizzTone Label Group VTTM-02

11 songs – 50 minutes

www.tylerdmorris.com

One of the fastest rising guitarists in the Northeast, Tyler Morris makes his debut as a vocalist on his one as he teams up with three of the top fret masters in the business – Ronnie Earl, Joe Louis Walker and Mike Zito –for this intense, pleasing follow-up to Next in Line, his promising first appearance on the VizzTone imprint.

Still only 21 years old and someone whose skill on the six-string is a fiery as his red locks, the Boston native proves to be as solid at the mike, too, adding his pleasant tenor to seven of the ten cuts with Walker, Zito and former Blues Blast Sean Costello Rising Star nominee Amanda Fish sitting in for another.

But that should come as no surprise for anyone who knows Tyler, a multi-skilled talent who’s been playing professionally since age 11, beginning at B.B. King’s in Beantown, has a knowledge of the blues that far exceeds most men his age and a history that includes holding his own – and more — on stage with everyone from Sammy Hagar and Steve Vai to Leslie West and Walter Trout and Christone “Kingfish” Ingram and Robben Ford.

Morris made his recording debut in his mid-teens with And So It Begins in 2015. He’s left the singing to others on two subsequent releases while proving himself to be an incendiary performer with an infinity for multiple forms of music and a skilled songwriter to boot.

In addition, he’s an electrical engineer who’s designed audio effects for a who’s who of clients, including Joe Bonamassa, Brian May of Queen, Warren Haynes and others. And his instructional videos – released in collaboration with Guitar Player Magazine – have a large following, too.

While his most recent previous release – which reached the No. 8 position on Billboard’s blues charts and was chockful of over-the-top guitar pyrotechnics — proved a godsend to fans of blues-rock, this collection of six originals and four covers is a deep-in-the-pocket pleaser that contains plenty of fireworks, but will attract folks with more traditional musical sensibilities, too.

Produced by Zito and recorded at Blue Door Studios in Groton, Mass., NRS Studio in Catskills, N.Y., and at Weights and Measures Studio in Kansas City, Morris is backed here by Lewis Stephens on keyboards, Terry Dry on bass and Matthew Robert Johnson on percussion throughout. Mike sits in on guitar for three cuts with Ronnie and Joe Louis joining for one each.

A trio of familiar, but completely reinvented covers open the action, beginning with a blazing rendition of late British blues-rocker Gary Moore’s “Movin’ On” and Tyler handling vocals like he’s been doing it in the studio all his life. The action slows, the sound gets funky and Morris is at his bluesy best for a rock-steady take on Don Nix’s “Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven” before the pace quickens slightly for Tony Joe White’s “Polk Salad Annie” – on which Walker adds stinging slide guitar lines and he and Zito share vocals.

Morris is back in charge for the original rocker “Living in the Shadows” – built atop a driving guitar hook – and “Temptation” — an unhurried, self-penned blues ballad – before Amanda’s vocals power a musical in-your-face response to a put-down in “Better Than You,” a Southern rocker penned by Zito. The loping “Why Is Love So Blue” finds Tyler ready for another go-round after a little romantic heartache before he finds himself in a hopeless situation, working a day job in the rocker “Nine to Five.”

Earl and Morris trade likes in “Young Man’s Blues,” an interesting tune that invokes Robert Johnson, Albert King and Eric Clapton, states unequivocally that “this modern music/Don’t have much soul,” notes that he’ll leave it behind for others leaving it for others and says: “Don’t come between me and Freddie/’Cause that’s what I listen to.” Two more originals – the dark, powerful blues rocker “Taken from Me” and slashing “I’m On to You” – bring the disc to a close.

Available through most major retailers, Tyler Morris should no longer be Living in the Shadows with this one. His time is now.

 

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